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State of Indian higher education: A data journey through AISHE reports

Blog Date
February 27,

The All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) is an exhaustive annual report meticulously compiled by the Department of Higher Education. This report serves as a valuable repository of data, providing a comprehensive overview of the ever-evolving academic landscape in India.  

Recently unveiled, the AISHE 2021-22 report offers a fascinating insight into the trends, challenges, and potential trajectories shaping the course of higher education in the country. This crucial document not only highlights the current state of affairs but also serves as a crucial reference point for analyzing and understanding the shifts that have occurred over the years. 

As we delve into the rich insights of the AISHE 2021-22 report, it becomes evident that comparing this data with previous years is crucial for discerning patterns and potential areas of improvement. The report acts as a catalyst for envisioning impactful strategies to address challenges and capitalize on opportunities, thereby contributing to the continual enhancement of the higher education landscape in India.

No of Indian higher education institutes

No of colleges and universities in India

Over the past six years, a notable transformation is discernible in the number of colleges within the educational landscape of India. According to the latest All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) report, the country boasts an impressive count of over 45,000 colleges and 1168 universities. 

This statistical revelation underscores the dynamic nature of the educational sector, where new universities, spanning various categories, continue to emerge across the nation on an annual basis. The consistent expansion of educational institutions reflects a concerted effort towards increasing accessibility to higher education, presenting a promising trajectory for the academic sphere in India. 

Here is the checklist to identify fake universities.

Enrollment growth in Indian higher education 

Year by year total enrollments

The report indicates a 4.5% increase in student enrollment compared to 2020-21, reaching a total of 4.33 crores. This upward trajectory reflects an enduring thirst for knowledge amidst a changing world. Enrollments of female students in postgraduate programs are higher than male students. However, a closer look reveals nuanced patterns. The gender gap, though narrowing, persists with male enrollment at 51.96% and female at 47.8%. Gender Parity Index (GPI) among 18-23 years in higher education is at 1.01 in 2021-22. 

Here are the key education trends to watch out.

Gross enrollment ratio (GER) in Indian higher education

Gross enrollment ration in higher education in India.

Gross enrollment ratio (GER) is an indicator of educational progress. It calculates by dividing enrollments by corresponding population in that age group. In higher education, the cohort is 18–23-year age group and calculated based on 2011 Census. The recent report shows a marginal growth in gross enrollment ratio (28.4). From 2018-19 onwards, the GER of female is higher than male GER thanks to various women empowerment centric schemes and programs of Central and State governments.  

Shifting interests in disciplines 

Percentage of enrollments in various disciplines.

Moving beyond the headline numbers, the report reveals fascinating shifts in student preferences across disciplines. While Arts & Humanities retain their top position with 29.4% enrollment, a slight dip from 30.2% in 2020-21, Commerce & Management hold steady at 24.4%. Science & Technology, with a marginal bump to 21.1%, maintains its relevance. However, the most dramatic move comes from Engineering & Technology, witnessing a significant jump to 15.9% from 13.9% in the previous year. This surge aligns with India’s focus on technological advancement and skilled workforce development. 

Distance education trends in India.

The AISHE report shines a spotlight on the democratizing force of distance education. Student enrollment in this distance education has been plateaued from 2020-21 to 2021-22. Total enrollments as per the latest data is 24.46 lakhs a slight drop from previous year (24.78 lakhs). There was a sudden spike in 2020-21 from 2019-20 (17.7 lakhs), that was arrested in 2020-21.

On the remote learning front, the advent of online education has propelled learning opportunities for students in higher education. More than 40 top-ranked universities such as Manipal University Jaipur (MUJ) launched their online degree programs in 2021. Online education enabled students to learn from anywhere anytime use any device they have. Ultimately, it intensified the democratization of education. 

You may like to read about pros and cons of online learning.

Pupil-teacher ratio 

Students-teacher ratio

Pupil-teacher ratio is one of the indicators of the quality of education. The PTR in Universities and Colleges remains 24:1. Though there is an improvement in overall pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) in the last six years, it is indicating potential strain on faculty resources. Additionally, equitable distribution of quality educators across regions and institutions remains a challenge. To address these concerns, investments in faculty development, infrastructure improvement, and targeted interventions for resource-scarce institutions are crucial. 

You may be interested to know about the future of education with AI.

No of foreign students in Indian higher education system

No of foreign students

The AISHE 2021-22 data provides insight into the discernible impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the enrollment of foreign students in Indian higher education institutions. Notably, the data reflects a significant peak in the number of foreign student enrollments during the academic year 2019-20, just before the onset of the pandemic crisis. It is optimistic to anticipate a correction in this trend in the coming years, especially with the concerted efforts to mitigate the challenges posed by the pandemic. 

Additionally, the government’s proactive initiative to encourage the establishment of foreign universities in India is poised to make the country a more attractive destination for students globally. This strategic move is anticipated to contribute to a resurgence in foreign student enrollments in Indian institutions. Simultaneously, recent news reports indicate a rising trend in the migration of Indian students seeking education in foreign universities. This dual mobility reflects the dynamic landscape of global higher education and underscores the evolving choices and opportunities available to students in the current educational milieu. 


The AISHE report provides a valuable roadmap for policymakers, educators, and stakeholders to chart the future of Indian higher education. By focusing on inclusivity, quality, and relevance, India can unlock the full potential of its knowledge economy and empower its workforce for a globalized future.  

In conclusion, this article has endeavored to shed light on the prevailing landscape of higher education in India. We trust that you have gained a comprehensive understanding of the intricate Indian higher education ecosystem. It is essential to underscore the significant role played by Online Manipal in elevating higher education to new heights.  

By providing online degree programs from top-ranked universities, Online Manipal is making a substantial contribution to the educational landscape. These online programs stand as a beacon of accessibility, allowing students the flexibility to learn from any location and at any time that suits their convenience, all facilitated through their preferred devices. As we navigate the evolving terrain of education, Online Manipal remains at the forefront, championing a transformative approach to learning and shaping the future of higher education in India. 


Information related to companies and external organizations is based on secondary research or the opinion of individual authors and must not be interpreted as the official information shared by the concerned organization.

Additionally, information like fee, eligibility, scholarships, finance options etc. on offerings and programs listed on Online Manipal may change as per the discretion of respective universities so please refer to the respective program page for latest information. Any information provided in blogs is not binding and cannot be taken as final.

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